Before we knew that galaxies tend to form the familiar fractal shape, we perhaps should have rightly expected this from the persistence of this pattern in the parts of nature we do observe.  Indeed, I’m curious if we will observe a fractal pattern in sub-atomic phenomena at some point in the future (or if we already have? any particle physicists stumbling upon this post?).

But more generally than speculations about the universality of the fractal form, it seems an obvious though oft-neglected fact (perhaps precisely because of its obvious nature) that in both our speculations about physical  phenomena we have yet to see, and our descriptions and language employed of that we do see, our scientific vocabulary is restricted to borrowing from pre-existing terms.  Thus, we speak of the brain ‘stem’, the ‘core’ of the galaxy, the ‘heart’ of this, the ‘edge’ of the universe, and so on.((I don’t wish to deny that science is immune to neologisms, but I suggest that all neologisms are either accidental or intentional combinations or corruptions or otherwise representations of existing terms.))  What else could we do?

Theology (particularly natural theology, as distinct from a theology of revelation) shares the same semantic limitations.  Every bottom-up God-word (shall we say every ‘theologism‘?), attempting to speak of the unseen and ineffable, is borrowed from the world of the seen and effable.  Thus, in Judeo/Christian Scripture (neither limited to, nor exempt from the language of natural theology), God is said to be a ‘rock’, a ‘fire’, a ‘woman in labour pains’, a ‘Father’, a ‘mother hen’, a ‘lion’, a ‘lamb’, a ‘land owner’, etc.  What else could we do?

But of course, uniquely, Christian theology claims that the impenetrable veil of perception has been pierced from the other side.  God not only sent an authoritative message or book about Godself, but, to quote (and admiringly negate) Forrest Gump, “God showed up.”  And this revelation has both affirmed and transformed (even subverted) the former types and shadows.  That which was unable to be described with words was the Word made flesh.  “Nobody has ever seen God, but the only begotten Son, in the bosom of the Father, has made him known”, wrote John the seer (John 1:18).  God is not just ‘like’, but was active, present and revealed as a self-giving, dying, rising man.  The nakedly anthropocentric – yet still universal – Lord of All.  In scientific terms, this would be the parallel (not ‘equivalent’) of an extra-cosmological entity (indeed if there be such a thing) entering our cosmos, our Milky Way, our solar system, our planet, our research institutions, and in a Mount-Sinai-like moment, engraving the equations down as the cosmologists shrunk back in a mixture of reverence and fear.

reason coin & revealed christ

The reason coin:

Theism has an idea of what a god is.  It then turns to look at the world and finds its idea more or less confirmed.  Atheism has an idea of what a god is.  It looks at the world and finds its idea more or less unconfirmed.  Theism and atheism are two sides of the same coin – matching up an idea of god with what is seen in the world.

The revealed Christ:

Rather than humans projecting an idea of what a god is like onto observations of the world ((natural theology – whether theistic or atheistic in conclusion)), in Christianity, God reveals himself to us fully and finally in Christ.  This revelation is surprising.  Our logical ideas of god (powerful, glorious, etc.) are shattered by the dying, bleeding, weak, self-sacrificing, humiliating, suffering-with-us God of Christ and His Cross.

“crux sola est nostra theologia” (the cross alone is our only theology) – Martin Luther

evolution conference: june 25-27

Mark your calendars and register!

TANSA (Theology and the Natural Sciences Aotearoa) presents:

The Theological Meaning of Evolution

Conference to celebrate and interact with Darwin.

Thursday June 25th at 7pm to Saturday June 27th at 6pm

Key Note Speaker: Dr. Christopher Southgate, author of The  Groaning of Creation University of Exeter
Local Speakers: Assoc. Prof. Ruth Barton (Auckland), Assoc. Prof. John Stenhouse (Otago), Assoc. Prof. Peter Lineham (Massey), Dr. John Owens (Good Shepherd), Dr. Grant Gillett (Otago), Prof. Neil Broom (Auckland), Dr. Stephen Downs (Flinders), Rev.Hugh Bowron (Holy Trinity)  and theologians from Laidlaw Carey.

Contact Nicola @ nicolahc (at) laidlaw (dot) ac (dot) nz for details
Please click here for poster, and registration form.

(copied from here)

2009 gifford lectures

The 2009 Gifford Lectures, “A Fine-Tuned Universe: Science, Theology and the Quest for Meaning”, presented by Alister McGrath, are all up online in PDF format.

Lecture 1: Yearning to make sense of things – 2009 Gifford Lecture 1.pdf

Lecture 2: Why we still need natural theology – 2009 Gifford Lecture 2.pdf

Lecture 3: The mystery of the constants of nature – 2009 Gifford Lecture 3.pdf

Lecture 4: The enigmas of evolutionary biology – 2009 Gifford Lecture 4.pdf

Lecture 5: Natural theology and the quest for meaning – 2009 Gifford Lecture 5.pdf

Lecture 6: Conclusion: clues to the meaning of the universe? – 2009 Gifford Lecture 6.pdf

Also in book form: A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology